Epic Games Releases Next-Generation, Real-Time Unreal Engine 5 Demo Running on PlayStation 5

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Image: Epic Games

Thanks to Epic Games, we now have a clear idea of what games on next-generation consoles could look like. The company presented a peek at Unreal Engine 5 today via “Lumen in the Land of Nanite,” a real-time demo running on Sony’s PlayStation 5, and the footage looks positively stunning. It’s essentially a scene straight out of a modern Tomb Raider title – but with environmental detail, lighting, and draw distance on overdrive.

“This demo previews two of the new core technologies that will debut in Unreal Engine 5,” wrote Epic Games in regard to “Nanite” and “Lumen,” which will allow developers to really stretch their talents with geometric detail and dynamic lighting, respectively. Here’s how the company describes them:

Nanite virtualized micropolygon geometry frees artists to create as much geometric detail as the eye can see. Nanite virtualized geometry means that film-quality source art comprising hundreds of millions or billions of polygons can be imported directly into Unreal Engine—anything from ZBrush sculpts to photogrammetry scans to CAD data—and it just works. Nanite geometry is streamed and scaled in real time so there are no more polygon count budgets, polygon memory budgets, or draw count budgets; there is no need to bake details to normal maps or manually author LODs; and there is no loss in quality.

Lumen is a fully dynamic global illumination solution that immediately reacts to scene and light changes. The system renders diffuse interreflection with infinite bounces and indirect specular reflections in huge, detailed environments, at scales ranging from kilometers to millimeters. Artists and designers can create more dynamic scenes using Lumen, for example, changing the sun angle for time of day, turning on a flashlight, or blowing a hole in the ceiling, and indirect lighting will adapt accordingly. Lumen erases the need to wait for lightmap bakes to finish and to author light map UVs—a huge time savings when an artist can move a light inside the Unreal Editor and lighting looks the same as when the game is run on console.

Unreal Engine 5 will be available in preview in early 2021, with a full release coming later in 2021. Naturally, UE5 will support next-generation consoles in addition to PC, current-gen consoles, and Mac, iOS, and Android.

Tsing Mui
News poster at The FPS Review.

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